What do these three-word amalgams have in common?
For us music fans out there, we’ve most likely guessed it by now. They’re all band names. Today I will suggest words can be a catalyst to our success, or a detriment. Why? Because words are powerful. Words can be the most significant method to manipulate. Interrogators know this. Salesman know this. Teenage girls know this.
Words are also powerful resources for connecting, branding, encouraging, and inspiring. Use them wisely, for they can create wonder with proper storytelling, blunder with improper use, or thunder if AC/DC had its way. Let me illustrate this through a simple story.
There once was a band who mastered their talent in their garage for years. They could play in any chord, in any key, on nearly every instrument, and in any genre. They had the job skills.
This band melded together in friendship, openness, and trust. They were innovative, creative, and had moral character. They were a fit.
The group had a unique sound, they understood the industry and created music that appealed to their niche. They had a differentiator in the marketplace.
They got hired for gigs at local establishments, they proudly displayed their band name on the marquee, they sent flyers to locals, displayed ads in music magazines, and delivered social media to music fans. They had a good marketing strategy.
On the days of the performances, the band was pumped and ready to go – but nobody showed. They didn’t connect with their audience in a way that made them react and respond. They had poor communications.
The name of their band - “Closed for Remodeling."
My point – all elements of a strategy and plan need to align. And since I’m in the field of communications, I will boldly say that communications is the most important element. That’s right, I wrote these words. Why? Because, I repeat, words are powerful. They allow us to create an intended action and deliver results.
Now, consider these band names:
Regardless of whether we like the music these bands produce, in general terms, their band name is terrible. Even the members of the Goo Goo Dolls admitted they made a mistake with this one. Imagine we’re in a band and we have the opportunity to give ourselves a name. Anything goes! The world of words is ours for the taking. We have talent and a record deal, and we settle on the band name, “The The.” What I figure, is the sex and drugs may have gotten in the way of the rock ‘n roll naming convention for some of these band members.
“Words That Work.” It’s a wonderful book by Dr. Frank Luntz. In it, Luntz offers a behind-the-scenes look at how the tactical use of words and phrases affects what we buy, who we vote for, and even what we believe in. With chapters like "The Ten Rules of Successful Communication" and "The 21 Words and Phrases for the 21st Century," he examines how choosing the right words is essential. Oh, and yes, it comes in all forms of readable consumption – hardback, soft cover, audiobook, radio interviews, etc.
Words. Use them wisely, for they are our communications. I will conclude by reverting to band names through some fun and pun. These are a sampling of my favorite pairings, who at some point should have toured with each other, if not just for the marquee presentation alone.
Visit me and say hello!
Brace yourself, this starts off rough. And there’s a point to it, so bear with me. I know good friends or family members with at least one of these conditions, and so may you: cancer, kidney failure, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, depression, ADHD, dyslexia, blindness, deafness, infertility, PTSD, severe arthritis, alcoholism, drug addiction, and homelessness.
Recently, I found out a valedictorian of a high school in my county, an A-student, and well-spoken young man was homeless. This reminds me of a statement by Ian MacLaren, a noted Scotsman and author, who cared deeply about those around him. He offers wise counsel with the words, “Be kind. Everyone you meet is carrying a heavy burden.”
Today, I’d like us to consider how well we really know the people in our lives. I mean REALLY know them. The world today is like that moment in the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy’s house is lifted by the wind of the whirling tornado - people fly in and out of our lives. Unlike Dorothy in that moment, it is something we CAN control.
Growing up, I was the kid who knew a lot of people, but very few at any level of depth. I didn’t purposefully set out to do this, it just happened, perhaps because of my immaturity. My brother, who’s just 15 months younger, had an approach quite unlike mine. He knew a few people at a remarkable depth. In time, I matured and adopted his method, for those that I truly admired. The shift has been wonderful.
As I’ve gotten to know individuals at a deeper level, life has become more profound, relationships more meaningful. It has been enlightening and compelling. People are incredibly giving and helpful, regardless of the ask or the situation. And those that aren’t aligned with my values, I purposefully haven’t allowed them time with me to influence. Therefore, here’s what I’d like us to consider:
Questions for all of us…
· The relationships I care about, how deep do they go - besides a beer and a game or a wine and a whine?
· How many of my LinkedIn connections have I spoken to, met with, helped in some way, or thanked in some way? (Do I even have a LinkedIn network?)
· Have I donated lately to a cause that helps our fellow human beings? (time, items, money, etc.)
Tougher questions for all of us…
· What actions have I taken to make my workplace better for me and those around me?
· What actions have I taken to make my community a better place to reside?
· What actions have I taken to make my world a better place to live?
These types of actions don’t have to be enormous to better our lives. My example is this… do I walk in my work place, hop over a crumpled paper on the floor, and complain how dirty the place is - or do I pick up the piece of trash, toss it in a wastebasket, and make it better for me and everyone around me?
Likewise, the interactions with people in our circle of friends and peers do not have to be enormous. They simply need to be thoughtful. Genuine. And it can make an exponential and positive difference. Pay it forward, so to speak. The Boy Scouts taught me when I was young to leave a campsite (or wherever I was) better than when I arrived. It’s one of my favorite life lessons.
Next time, we leave our table at the coffee shop, our buddy’s basement after the game, or in those rare moments when our eyes raise up from our mobile device – let’s look behind us. How does the scene present itself for those in our wake?
Visit me and say hello!
This, I believe, is one reason why they’re so successful. We want a place to go outside of our work or home. A place to sit, talk, and enjoy each other’s company – or be left alone. Starbucks made that happen.
How? They displayed lots of chairs, couches and tables. They erected fireplaces and outside patios. They built in locations where people naturally gather – outside of shopping centers, inside of shopping centers, inside of grocery stores, and near hospitals, colleges, and office buildings. And they sell coffee and tea, and in some locations, alcohol. These are the beverages most people drink when we sit, talk, and enjoy each other’s company - or want to be left alone.
I embrace loitering too. Why? First, it’s easier than fighting it! Secondly, it allows me to accomplish several things by removing me from the norm and commotion that is life. In this unique and lively space, I get to write, read, relax, ponder, produce, and people-watch (not in a creepy way; I enjoy the characters that wander this earth!)
Yes, I said ‘produce’. I’m a writer, thinker, team leader, visionary, and content producer, among other things. I don’t make this stuff up. My Enneagram tells me I’m an “enthusiastic visionary” (a busy, fun-loving type: spontaneous and versatile) with a wing of “loyalist” (a committed, security-oriented type: engaging and responsible). Now that I know this about myself, I set myself up for success, by surrounding myself with things that inspire me – people, coffee, WiFi, and a nearby electrical outlet.
This alternative (insert coffee shop of your choice here) space allows me to open my sensors and create. I’ve also met some extraordinary people in these spaces. “A coffee shop is a great meeting place,” said Blaise as if everyone already wasn’t aware of this. It’s also a great place to look up “Enneagram” to find out more about yourself and ask deeper questions to the people you meet.
As we begin this new year, I hope to see you in a cool meeting place “loitering” outside of your home or workspace. I challenge each of us to embrace the things we love, share the things that inspire us, and buy a cup of coffee for a friend. If you see me in one of these spaces, please come up and introduce yourself. And if you mention this article – I’ll buy you a cup of joe.
Yes. I wrote much of this note to you in a coffee shop. More dark-roast, please.
Visit me and say hello!
"freedom at work"